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Showing Our Love by Obedience

On no subject are the Bahá’í teachings more emphatic than on the necessity to abstain from faultfinding and backbiting while being ever eager to discover and root out our own faults and overcome our own failings. If we profess loyalty to Bahá’u’lláh, to our Beloved Master and our dear Guardian, then we must show our love by obedience to these explicit teachings. Deeds not words are what they demand, and no amount of fervour in the use of expressions of loyalty and adulation will compensate for failure to live in the spirit of the teachings. (From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, pp. 5–7)

During this worldwide pandemic, a lot of people around me, including some of my closest friends, have been taking a lot more risks than I’m comfortable with and I have found myself filled with criticism and judgement, leading to a lot of estrangement between us.  This morning, I find myself wanting to talk to one of them, and am rehearsing in my head what I want to say – mostly centered around the fact that there’s a big difference between being afraid that I might get or give the virus to others, and being obedient to the government.  I want to align with and honor the sacrifices of my Bahá’í brothers and sisters in Iran, or in Germany during the Nazi regime or in South Africa, during apartheid, where Baha’i’s might not approve of the government’s policies, but have steadfastly been obedient at horrific expense to themselves.

Obviously, I can’t make the call when I’m feeling so critical and judgmental.  I don’t want to even reach out to others for support in what to say, because that would be backbiting, which is a sin far worse than the risks they are willing to take in their lack of obedience to the government.  I may not like what others are doing, and I may even feel alone in my decision to adhere to the directives and feel lonely as a result, and even still, I will take a deep breath and give all of it to God, so that I can stop even breathing in the sins of others.

Reading the Writings morning and night and finding exactly the right quote when I need it the most, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

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Cleansing our Hearts of Estrangement and Conflict

Root out the sources of dissension and raise up the foundations of harmony. Cling tenaciously to the hem of the love of God and cleanse your hearts of any trace of estrangement or conflict. Thus may the light of divine bestowal shine resplendent, and ye become the recipients of the effulgent glory of the Sun of Truth. (From a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—translated from the Persian, from Give me Thy Grace to Serve Thy Loved Ones, Compilation for the 2018 Counsellors’ Conference, [15])

The other day I learned that someone in our community had decided not to have any more contact with the Bahá’í community.  I shouldn’t have been surprised because we haven’t seen her out to anything in many years, but the comment took me by surprise and I took offense.  Not only that, I began to blame myself, wondering what I might have done to cause this reaction.  Suddenly her estrangement became my own.  Now instead of one person upset, the numbers had doubled.  I may not have caused her initial problem, but I was certainly now the source of dissension.

I find it interesting to learn the wisdom in letting go of the inner conflict and desire for estrangement.  It’s so I can receive divine bestowals and become the recipient of God’s glory.  To receive these gifts, I don’t have to do anything to change my attitude towards her.  I don’t have to detach from my righteous indignation and hurt.  All I have to do, is cling tenaciously to the hem of the love of God.  I can do that!

Knowing the many benefits of clinging to God’s love, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

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Unity: One of the First Essentials

If we Bahá’ís cannot attain to cordial unity among ourselves, then we fail to realize the main purpose for which the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh and the Beloved Master lived and suffered. In order to achieve this cordial unity one of the first essentials insisted on by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is that we resist the natural tendency to let our attention dwell on the faults and failings of others rather than on our own. (From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, pp. 5–7)

How much disunity exists in our Bahá’í communities, because we haven’t yet learned how to attain cordial unity among ourselves?  My hunch is a lot, especially since a lot of people are opting out of participating in the core activities.  Instead of just accepting this reality, I can dig a little deeper.

I love it when a quote tells me a problem and immediately gives a solution!  In this case, unity is not just a nice concept we can all agree on (Bahá’u’lláh came to bring unity to the world), but it gives me something practical I can do:  stop dwelling on the faults and failings of other rather than my own, and remember the main purpose for which the Bab, Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá lived and suffered.  Sometimes easier said than done, particularly in a culture that values gossip and fault-finding.

We’re told our greatest tests will come from other Bahá’ís and really, these tests are a gift, not something to fear or become frustrated and judgmental.  With every test comes an opportunity to grow spiritually, to grow closer to God and to attain the virtues we’ll need in the next world.  Instead of focusing on the faults and failings of others, I could welcome and embrace the awareness it gives, knowing that this finger-pointing can act as a mirror for my own growth.

Turning my attention to the crises and victories that came to the lives of the Central Figures, I can learn to adjust my own behavior and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

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Why We Let Go of Petty Bickerings and Jealousies

Petty bickerings and jealousies make one lose all the traces of spirituality, excommunicate a person from the divine company of the worthy ones, submerge one in the sea of phantasms, suffer one to become cold and pessimistic and throw him headlong into the depths of despair and helplessness! (Abdu’l-Baha, “Star of the West,” Vol. V, No. 1, p. 6)

Wow, this is such a clear warning about all the reasons to let go of our bickering and jealousy:

  • makes us lose all traces of spirituality
  • excommunicates us from the divine company of the worthy ones
  • submerges us in the sea of phantasms (delusions, fantasies, figments of imagination)
  • suffers us to become cold and pessimistic
  • throws us headlong into the depths of despair and helplessness

It’s interesting that bickering and jealousy are paired together here.  In my mind, bickering goes on externally between me and someone else, where jealousy goes on inside my head, and yet both have the same results.

I often find myself jealous of those who are married, have careers and contact with adult children and grandchildren.  According to this quote, I can see that I lose all traces of spirituality by feeling sorry for myself.  I excommunicate myself when I isolate and separate myself from those I envy, not wanting to experience the feelings of “less than” or be pitied.  Focusing on what I don’t have keeps me from being grateful for all that I do have, and from developing a relationship with God as my primary relationship, keeping me from achieving my purpose in life.  When I look ahead and see only more of the same, I definitely become pessimistic and thrown into the depths of despair and helplessness.

Knowing all of this gives me a great motivation to let go of bickering and jealousy and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

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Confronting our Abusers

Consort with all men, O people of Bahá, in a spirit of friend­liness and fellowship. If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and good-will. If it be accepted, if it fulfil its purpose, your object is attained. If any one should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal un­kindly with him. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 289)

When I was confronting my parents about the abuse I sustained as a child, I unfortunately took my examples from the prevailing wisdom of the day, which said, tell them what you remember, what you want from them and what you will do if they don’t comply.  Needless to say, this approach got their backs up; they attempted to have me declared crazy and have my son taken away from me, and then when that didn’t work, they put a wedge between my siblings and I and cut me out of their lives.  I never saw any of my family after that.

As a good Bahá’í, it always bothered me that this action created so much estrangement in our family.  If I couldn’t have unity in my own family, how on earth could I help bring it to the world?

I wish I’d had the awareness and spiritual maturity called for in today’s quote.  Inside of coming on strong with threats, I could have approached them from a place of kindness and curiosity.  Unfortunately I was so full of hate and resentment and unforgiveness that there was no place in my heart for God, or love or friendliness or fellowship.  I have left them to themselves and pray for them.  It’s the best I can do for my family, but I have learned from my mistake and take care of the forgiveness first, before talking to anyone about a difficult matter.

Knowing I can talk to people kindly and if I’m rebuffed, I can leave them in God’s hands, I am filled with peace, and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies      Kindle

 

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Gossip and Backbiting

You ask in your letter for guidance on the implications of the prohibition on backbiting and more specifically whether, in moments of anger or depression, the believer is permitted to turn to his friends to unburden his soul and discuss his problem in human relations. Nor­mally, it is possible to describe the situation surrounding a problem and seek help and advice in resolving it, without necessarily mentioning names. The individual believer should seek to do this, whether he is consulting a friend, Bahá’í or non-Bahá’í, or whether the friend is consulting him.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, to an individual believer, Sept. 23, 1975)

I have a situation brewing in my life this week, where someone took offence at something I did that had nothing to do with her.  She’s been flaming me with multiple viscous attacks via text messages, social media posts and when I blocked her, via anonymous posts on Messenger.  It’s been very distressing.  I’ve been so tempted to tell my side of the story to people who know both of us and with God’s help, I’ve held my tongue and I am grateful!  But I have needed to unburden myself and needed to find the right person to help me learn how to block people, and again, God sent me the right people.

Dealing with difficult situations needn’t be difficult with God on our side.  He wants to be our problem-solver and best friend.  I think He sends us these situations in order to strengthen our relationship with Him, and to help us grow the virtues we need.  This week, I’m choosing justice, to protect myself from the poison of slander and at the same time, forgiving her, loving her and praying for her.  It feels like healthy spiritual growth.

Knowing how to unburden my soul and seek help and advice in a way that isn’t backbiting, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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